Friends and colleagues share their memories of Father Shelton
The following is a Eulogy to Father Shelton by Derek Scarth, RC ‘95
I was blessed to have known Charlie for 20 years. He was like a father to me and guided me in becoming the man I am today. He officiated my marriage, baptized my three sons, was the godfather of my son Tanner, and performed my grandparents’ funeral ceremonies. He has also shared his pride in my successes and counseled me in times of grief. For me, like many of you, he was my first call in times of crisis, which makes his death that much harder to handle.
As the reality of his death set in, I expressed my anger at his leaving us. “Dammit Charlie, who am I going to call now when I need help?” I asked.
But as my closest Regis friends came to town, we recognized quickly that Charlie’s ability to continue to care for us rested in our friendship – a friendship he had so much of an influence on over the years.
My story, however, is no different than any of yours. Charlie was instrumental in our Regis community and loved by you all as he walked with you on your path to maturity at Regis or elsewhere, presided at your weddings, baptized your children and consoled you in your dark moments. The only advantage some of us had was time. Some were blessed to know him from his times at St. Louis University or Regis High School, and others were new to his selfless brilliance during the last few years. But his impact and importance to each of us is equally important. For everyone here, Charlie’s dedication to us as individuals, couples, families and a Regis Community as a whole is what made him amazing.
People say that you can’t be all things to all people, but Charlie proved by our collective experience that someone can indeed do so.
I was fortunate to be with Charlie the last 9 or so hours of his life. Once his prognosis was understood and communicated to his family and the Jesuit community, a wonderful chain of events occurred. I, along with a few others, witnessed a snapshot of Charlie’s impact on the lives
of young men and women and their families over the last 40 years. Between roughly 4pm and his passing, more than 100 people came to the hospital to say goodbye and express their love for our dear friend. We knew that in addition to the hospital visitors, multitudes of others were there in tearful spirit.
The outpouring of emotion came from family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and even individuals from Charlie’s Regis High School days to current Regis University students. I didn’t know each by name but we all knew what the other was feeling and thus created an instantaneous bond in our mutual love for Charlie. The family waiting room and hallway became a haven of grace and comfort for all who were there. Many discussions were taking place over cell phones extending to the geographies where Charlie’s footprint had reached. A sense of calm came over me knowing that Charlie’s legacy will never die because it lives in each of us as we share his story He helped so many of us become men and women of God with his counsel around moral health and the practical application of being grateful. Little did we know how relevant and applicable his lessons around gratitude would become.
And what a gift he gives us in being able to comprehend the entirety of love. For me, this recognition shifts the pain towards hope, smiles and the memories of Charlie’s quirkiness and playful spirit.
I was mesmerized by how such a brilliant man could somehow leave the Jesuit house with two different shoes on. Or go to movie by himself and return to the car hours later to find that he had left the keys in the ignition and car running the entire time. I traveled a fair amount with Charlie and would have to hold on to his belt loop in busy cities like Chicago or London when we walked because he often would drift right into traffic.
I’d like to share one such story. John McDermott received an email from Charlie after he had witnessed John doing some boxing training. Charlie hypothesized what a fight between the two of them might look like in an email, and while I won’t read the entire email, it concluded like this:
My prediction is the following three things would happen: (1) within one millisecond of my glove touching the epidermal layer of your skin your jaw would disintegrate faster than an Irish piece of crystal hitting a block of cement at 250 mph. (2) you would be flatlined—sprawled out on the canvass flatter than Sly Stallone’s abs which he has on display in his latest flick. And finally (3), you would be out cold, comatose to the world—sort of like my students in class toward the end of one of my long lectures.
Oh, one last thing…in case you didn’t know and ignorance of this rule will not absolve you when you stand before the Big Guy above at your own demise: HITTING A PRIEST IS A SIN. HAHA YOU LOSE!!
Chuck “Raging Bull” Shelton, S.J.
The point here is I knew what Charlie meant to a few of us. I loved learning what he meant to all of you.
Charlie valued all of these relationships equally and it allowed him to enrich his capacity for love. He often told me how much he enjoyed being a priest because it permitted him to have deep connections to all of us here today. He said it would never have been possible if he weren’t at Regis.